STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN SUPPORT OF BANNING THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AND RECONSIDERING LAWS THAT ALLOW EASY ACCESS TO GUNS

Last week’s tragic loss of nine innocent lives in Charleston has focused the nation’s attention on combatting racially motivated violence and preventing radicalization of misguided or disturbed individuals by hate groups.

While various groups within our society may have differing interpretations of what the Confederate battle flag means to them, it certainly was an emblem of rebellion against the United States of America under which the most shameful institution in American history was defended. In recent decades, and not at all surprisingly, that flag also has become a signal of racial exclusion and hostility. The flag of the Confederacy has been consciously and explicitly embraced by hate groups as an effective tool to promote values that are fundamentally at odds with, and undermine, our nation’s commitment to equality and justice.

We believe scholars and historians should continue to debate the causes and consequences of the Civil War, including the Confederate perspective, in the classroom. But the battle flag of the Confederacy should have no official place in the public sphere in the United States. We urge the removal of the Confederate flag and other insignia from all state flags, license plates, official documents, and public venues.

We also want to point out that while racial hatred was the motivation behind the senseless murders in Charleston, the easy availability of guns provided the means for the perpetrator’s crime. We urge policymakers to roll-back the “open carry” gun laws that in some cases allow weapons on college campuses. Charleston is the latest in a series of horrific mass-shootings the nation has suffered over the years; it serves as another unfortunate post facto reminder that long-overdue sensible gun reforms can prevent future tragedies.